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Nigeria Oil Output Hits 22-year Low As Violence Spreads

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Nigeria’s oil output has slumped to a 22-year low, figures showed on Tuesday, because of pipeline sabotage and increasing unrest that has seen major companies evacuate staff.

Data compiled by Bloomberg indicated that output in Africa’s biggest oil producer has fallen below 1.7 million barrels per day (bpd) for the first time since 1994.

Rebels seeking a fairer share of revenue for locals in the oil-rich southern delta are increasingly targeting facilities, posing a fresh security challenge for President Muhammadu Buhari.

The attacks have sparked fears of a repeat of violence and kidnappings that plagued the region in the 2000s and saw Nigeria’s output cut by a third, slashing government revenue.

It also risks hitting crude supplies at a time when Nigeria’s oil-dependent economy is facing a slump because of the fall in global prices.

Fresh queues at petrol stations around the country restarted this week, following speculation the government was to withdraw fuel subsidies that keep prices low at the pump.

Rebel attacks 

Last week, rebels from the Niger Delta Avengers (NDA) group claimed responsibility for an attack on the Okan offshore facility operated by US oil major Chevron.

The company said on Saturday some 35,000 bpd of crude was lost, although some estimates have put the loss higher.

At the weekend, Anglo-Dutch giant Shell evacuated most of its staff from its Eja production facility near the Bonga field.

Local media said 98 personnel were airlifted to safety by helicopter, leaving a skeleton staff protected by the military. Shell’s Nigerian subsidiary did not confirm the operation.

But it said in a statement it was continuing to monitor the security situation and was “taking all possible steps to ensure the safety of staff and contractors”.

Dirk Steffen, of the Denmark-based Risk Intelligence consultancy firm, told AFP the evacuation was a “precautionary” step because of threats from the NDA.

Steffen, the head of maritime security for the firm, said the NDA issued new threats on May 5 after claiming responsibility for the Chevron attacks.

“This time they specifically name the facilities they would be targeting… I assume this is also what prompted Shell to take precautionary measures,” he wrote in an email.

In February, Shell declared “force majeure” after an attack on a pipeline feeding the Forcados terminal, which typically exports about 200,000 barrels a day. It is expected to resume in June.

Driving factors 

Consultants BMI Research said the renewed unrest in the key region was “a worrying development as it demonstrates the increasing sphere of assets that are under risk”.

“Shell’s much larger Bonga field sits next door to the Eja facility and often exports over 200,000 bpd, highlighting much greater production risks than were previously anticipated.”

BMI said production disruption in the delta has historically been onshore and was a major factor driving Shell’s divestment of onshore assets and switch in focus to offshore blocks.

“The most recent attacks offshore are a new safety concern for those companies which once again find themselves vulnerable to supply disruptions,” it added.

The renewed violence comes after Buhari — facing Islamist militants Boko Haram in the northeast — began a crackdown on endemic corruption in the sector and rampant oil theft.

The government has also said it would wind up an amnesty programme, which was introduced in 2009 and saw thousands of rebels swap violence for monthly training and education stipends.

The upsurge in attacks since January has also been linked to multi-million-dollar corruption charges brought against Government Ekpemupolo, a former rebel leader nicknamed Tompolo.

He is accused of defrauding the government of some $225 million. The NDA is thought to contain his supporters although he has denied any links to the group.

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Centre allows movement of persons and goods across borders from June 1

The MHA emphasised that no state/UT shall stop the movement of any type of goods/cargo for cross land border under treaties with neighbouring states.

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New Delhi, May 30 : The Centre on Saturday, while announcing the guidelines for phased re-opening of the lockdown, said that from June 1, there will be no restriction on inter-state and intra-state movement of persons and goods.

In an exit mode from the 68-day nationwide lockdown, the Centre said that restrictions will be limited to only containment zones up to June 30. Applicable from Monday, June 1, the fresh order issued by the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) said, “There shall be no restriction on inter-state and intra-state movement of persons and goods. No separate permission/ approval/ e-permit will be required for such movements.”

The MHA emphasised that no state/UT shall stop the movement of any type of goods/cargo for cross land border under treaties with neighbouring states.

However, if a state/ Union Territory based on reasons of public health and its assessment of the situation proposes to regulate movement of persons, it will give wide publicity in advance regarding the restrictions to be placed on such movement, and the related procedures to be followed.

The MHA said, “Movement by passenger trains and Shramik Special trains; domestic passenger air travel; movement of Indian nationals stranded outside the country and of specified persons to travel abroad; evacuation of foreign nationals; and sign-on and sign-off of Indian seafarers will continue to be regulated as per the SOPs issued.”

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‘Unlock 1’: Hotel industry welcomes move, will follow health safety SoPs

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DELHI LOCKDOWN

New Delhi, May 31 : India’s hotel industry has welcomed the Centre’s norms under ‘Unlock 1, which allow them to re-commence operations.

These norms are part of the fifth phase of the nationwide lockdown which was announced on Saturday for the containment zones till June 30, providing relaxations for the hotel industry from June 8 onwards.

This phase relaxes many restrictions on businesses.

Hotel Association of India Vice President K.B. Kachru said: “The pandemic and consequent lockdowns have had disastrous impact on the hotel sector.”

“We welcome the government’s decision to allow restaurants, hotels and malls to open in areas outside the containment zones from June 8. We hope this landmark decision will pave the way for graded resurgence of the hotel industry,” Kachru said.

He urged the Centre to consider setting up of a Tourism COVID 19 Fund for en abling the tourism industry to meet its salary and working capital needs.

Major Industry player such as Ritesh Agarwal, Founder & Group CEO – OYO Hote ls & Homes said: “We welcome the government’s decision to reopen hotels. We are excit ed and prepared to host guests with the new sanitised stay experience.a

Similarly, Nakul Anand, Executive Director, ITC, and Chairman of the Federation of Associations in Indian Tourism & Hospitality (FAITH), thanked the Centre for reallowing the commencement of business operations of hotels, restaurants and other hospitality services under Unlock 1.

“We welcome the government’s decision to reopen hotels. We are excited and prepared to host guests with the new sanitised stay experience. At OYO, our topmost priorities are maintaining health, hygiene & well-being of our guests and staff. Right from our app to hotel teams, we are working to ensure proper sanitisation of hotels as well as maintaining social distancing with the guests. We are displaying a ‘Sanitised Stays’ tag for properties that clear background audit checks for sanitisation, hygiene, and protective equipment. We along with our asset partners, look forward to delivering a safe, secure and comfortable experience for our guests,” said Ritesh Agarwal, Founder and Group CEO, OYO Hotels & Homes.

On its part, Merrill Pereyra, Managing Director, Pizza Hut Indian Subcontinent, said: “This is a welcome announcement from the government and all our stores are fully prepared to serve the valued customers. All our stores are equipped to offer contactless dining wherein right from accessing the menu to making payments, the process will be digital.”

According to Ankur Bhatia, Executive Director, Bird Group: “We are already pushed to the wall. A little more extension of lockdown would have done irreversible economic damage. We welcome the government’s move to allow us to operate.”

In a statement, Zubin Saxena, Managing Director and Vice President, Operations, South Asia, Radisson Hotel Group, said: “We are looking forward to resuming operations within the government guidelines.

“Apart from hygiene, our go forward business model is concentrated on leveraging the synergies of our network which we believe will work in a sustainable manner to ensure business uplift overtime. We remain dedicated to exceeding guest expectations in the new era of hospitality that awaits us.”

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Yashwant Sinha criticises Modi over economy

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New Delhi: Former Finance Minister Yashwant Sinha, a strong critic of the Narendra Modi government made a satirical remark against Prime Minister over the decline in economic growth rate as GDP growth between Jan 2020-March 2020 is 3.1%, lowest in 11 years.

The former finance and external affairs minister took to Twitter to express his views as the BJP and its leaders celebrated the completion of first year rule of Modi 2.0

“The sharp decline in economic growth rate in the first year of Modi-2 is not because of any fault of this govt but because of Pt Jawaharlal Nehru. If he had not ruled India from 1947 to 1964 India today would be growing at double digit,” former Union Minister Yashwant Sinha tweeted.

“The growth figures of earlier quarters of the last fiscal had to be revised downwards because of the lockdown imposed on March 25. The government cannot be blamed for this. I am warning all critics in advance,” he added.

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